Top 5 Moments for Shinji Kagawa Playing for Japan

Scott RomFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2014

Top 5 Moments for Shinji Kagawa Playing for Japan

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    The last time the World Cup was held in Brazil, Japan were banned from competing, as they were still occupied following the Second World War. Sixty-four years later, they will be hoping to make the most of their presence at their fifth consecutive World Cup.

    Shinji Kagawa will be making his first appearance in this competition after missing out on the squad in 2010. He goes as one of his country's most important players, if not the most important, with Japan facing the difficult task of getting out Group of C.

    Japan are the lowest-seeded team behind Colombia, Greece and Ivory Coast, but they will be hoping to qualify from the group to match their greatest record to date, of reaching the round of 16.

    Whatever this summer may bring for the Manchester United man, he has had a few highlights to look back on during his journey up to the World Cup.

    So, here's a quick look at Kagawa's international highlights.

FIFA U-20 World Cup: 2007

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    Having already played for Japan's U-19 team, Kagawa went to the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada. They finished top of their group after beating Scotland and Costa Rica, as well as drawing with Nigeria.

    Despite dominating possession in the round-of-16 game against the Czech Republic, the match finished 2-2, with Kagawa coming on in extra time.

    Japan lost 4-3 on penalties, whilst the Czech Republic went on to reach the final, after beating a Spanish side containing the likes of Gerard Pique and Juan Mata in the quarter-final, and Austria in the semi-final. They lost to Argentina in the final though, with Sergio Aguero scoring a goal.

Debut: 2008

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    Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

    Kagawa made his first appearance for the first team in May 2008. He played in a Kirin Cup friendly match against the Ivory Coast in which Japan won.

    This was his first taste of international football at this level, and it was no surprise when a few months later he was representing his country at the Olympics.

Beijing Olympics: 2008

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    With Kagawa's stock beginning to rise, he was selected in the 18-man squad for the Olympics. At 19 years old, he was the youngest member of the team. Despite this, Kagawa played in all three group-stage games, but sadly they failed to win any of them so finished bottom of the group.

First Goal: 2010

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    Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

    Kagawa had to wait two years after his debut to score a goal for Japan. In a game against Paraguay, just after the World Cup, Kagawa scored the only goal in a 1-0 win.

    He picked the ball up outside the area and found the back of the net after the ball bounced off the inside of the post.

AFC Asian Cup: 2011

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    Kagawa started in all three of Japan's group-stage games in the AFC Asian Cup, with them finishing top of the group ahead of Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

    He then scored two goals in Japan's 3-2 win over Qatar in the quarter-final to put them in the semi-final. However, despite Japan booking their place in the final after beating South Korea on penalties, Kagawa never reached the final. He broke his metatarsal bone and missed out on Japan's win over Australia in the final.